Posts Tagged ‘mint’

The Pepper Delicious #2

Monday, December 11th, 2006

Mixology Monday 10: Festive OccasionI’d been planning to concoct a photogenic and tasty Kwanzaa-colored pousse café for this holiday edition of MxMo, but I was introduced to a drink this weekend that’s much more deserving of attention. It’s neither a traditional favorite nor easily prepared en masse, but I’m definitely going to be serving it in the coming weeks and beyond.

The Pepper Delicious #2The Pepper Delicious #2

2 oz. aquavit
1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
1/4 red bell pepper, sliced
6-8 mint leaves

Muddle the pepper, mint and simple syrup. Add lime juice, aquavit, and all the ice you can manage. Shake well and strain, floating a thin pepper round and a sprig of mint on the surface.

That’s right: a red bell pepper. Don’t knock it… it imparts an unexpected, fresh vegetal element and tints the cocktail a wonderful warm color. The garnish, along with the odd escaped flake of muddled mint, makes for a particularly Christmas-colored presentation.

Christian Krogstad of House Spirits Distillery was mixing these up at their open house on Saturday, employing his eponymous Krogstad Aquavit. Make it with gin, he says, and you have the Pepper Delicious #1. I assumed at the time that the recipe originated with Ryan Magarian as a vehicle for House Spirits’ Aviation Gin, but Citysearch informs us that the Pepper Delicious is on the menu at Canlis, one of Seattle’s premier restaurants, where they use Plymouth in theirs. Food and Wine Magazine thought enough of the Pepper Delicious to feature it in their list of top holiday cocktails for 2006. They attribute it to Canlis but don’t call the gin. Whomever is responsible deserves plaudits… I’d call Canlis, but it’s a bit late and the MxMo deadline looms. If you know (or are) the drink’s author, please comment.

Aquavit hasn’t been a stock ingredient in my bar, so I can’t say how the Pepper Delicious #2 fares with other brands, but the Krogstad has earned a place on the shelf now. I’ve tried a Pepper Delicious #1 with both Plymouth and Aviation gins, and in both cases it’s a somewhat milder affair. The #2, with aquavit, is a slightly hotter drink, whose caraway and anise notes nudge it just that much closer to a “holiday” flavor profile. With gin, it’s softer, and the pepper has a bit more room to show its influence. It’s an excellent drink in either incarnation — Ms. Thirsty favors the gin version — so don’t let an absence of aquavit stop you from treating yourself and those you love to one (or more). Go on… it’s the holidays.

Update: 28 other drinks for a festive occasion await your attention.

The Derby

Monday, June 12th, 2006

In the run-up to last week’s Mixology Monday I compiled a list of mint-containing drinks that I thought I’d like to sample. I made my way through three of them but had only so much time to allocate to drink, leaving other potential worthies untasted. In particular, I’d wanted to examine the Derby, for which I found two distinct recipes: one with peach bitters (in Craddock, Duffy, and Trader Vic’s), the other with peach brandy (in Embury and Beebe).

I don’t know when peach bitters entered their decline — CocktailDB implies that they failed to survive Prohibition, though Bergeron is calling for them ‘48 — but I suspect the reason that later authors employ peach brandy is that the bitters were growing scarce, if not already extinct. Lest customers seeking Derbies go unserved, brandy was substituted. Fortunately (and thanks in no small part to Ted Haigh), Fee Bros. has reintroduced peach bitters to the bartenders’ arsenal, so the merits of Derby evolution may be assessed.
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Mixology Monday III: Mint

Monday, June 5th, 2006

Mixology Monday: MintIt’s Mixology Monday again, this time hosted by Rick at Kaiser Penguin. There’s much to explore in the world of mint-containing cocktails — I don’t regularly make anything with mint, though we’ve a nice bush of it growing in the Old Mews (now the kitchen garden) behind Slakethirst Manor. Time to put it to use.
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Mr. Manhattan

Monday, June 5th, 2006

MxM: MintNo relation to the more familiar drink bearing the name of our premier island, the recipe for the Mr. Manhattan was delivered to these shores in Craddock’s Epistle to the Americans, who were suffering under the strictures of Volstead. Craddock, meanwhile, sojourned among the Britons and ministered to their spirituous needs at the Savoy’s American Bar. Ever thoughtful, he marked the Mr. Manhattan for our special notice as a concoction whose merits might not be diminished for want of … licit sources of alcohol.

Crush 1 cube sugar with a few drops water
Add 6 leaves mint and muddle further, then add
2 oz. gin
2 tsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Shake vigorously and strain

It may be possible to approximate a genièvre de la baignoire by reaching for the lowest possible shelf, but Seagrams was chosen in the interest of all concerned. Thus, the singular virtues of Mr. Manhattan as an aid to the Prohibited have gone un-investigated; however, ratios of juices have come under some scrutiny, and it is the above which proved out.

Canonically, Craddock calls for a single dash of lemon juice and four of orange. Taking an official dash at 1/8 tsp, the lemon and orange hardly made themselves known at all, and would doubtless prove insufficient to ameliorating an unsavory bootleg gin. At twice that volume it’s still a stiff gin drink with a bit of color and a minty nose… no, we found best a 4x multiplication of citrus, and thought in the end a bit more yet might serve well. The palate can only endure so much experimentation, alas, and so we settle on the recipe presented here. The mint — increased to 6 leaves from 4 — acquits itself well, thanks to a vigorous muddling, and plays very nicely with the orange.

The Mint Cocktail

Monday, June 5th, 2006

MxM: MintFor a mint-themed mix-off, I couldn’t avoid taking this plainly-named recipe for a test drive. The Mint Cocktail comes to us from Craddock’s 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book (though he would have it shaken), and is obviously not a cocktail. No matter, for while I abjure the proliferation of ‘tinis, I’m resigned that a cocktail is pretty much anything containing liquor, and if Harry wants to keep me company, so much the better.

The Mint Cocktail6 oz. white wine
4 oz. gin
1 oz. crème de menthe
Sprigs of mint

In a pitcher, soak a few sprigs of mint in 3 oz. white wine for 2 hours. Add the rest, stir vigorously with ice and strain into glasses, garnishing with additional sprigs.

It’s good, in its own special way, though confusing. There’s an initial hit of crème de menthe so patently unnatural in its intensity that “Andes” is the first word to mind. It lessens over time, either due to stratification or numbing of the palate, but with gradual warming and subsequent sips, the wine (I chose a sauvignon blanc) makes itself known. I can’t really say the same for the gin — Seagrams again, here — which may as well have been vodka for all that it withstood the crème de menthe. What isn’t clear, and has yet to be investigated, is whether the two hours of marinating mint leaves actually makes a difference or is merely an act of ritual. I failed to detect any subtly natural minty undertones beneath the crème de menthe’s one-note onslaught, and note that the CocktailDB’s Mint Cocktail recipe cuts to the chase without any prolonged soaking.

I give it neither a yea or nay yet — if I never had another, I wouldn’t mourn — but might be inclined to try marinating a much larger quantity of mint leaves and relying on their contribution alone, perhaps muddled with a bit of sugar for maximum effect.